A Guide to Flats Fishing with Toddlers

A Guide to Flats Fishing with Toddlers thumbnail

Disclaimer: This article is not about teaching toddlers how to fly fish on the flats… that comes later in life. It’s hard enough taking a toddler spin fishing on the flats for bonefish and redfish. The question is: Can you accept the fact that you will have to give up fly fishing for a little bit in order to create and educate your lifelong fishing companion?

Before my wife and I got proficient at it, the sound of those four words—Flats Fishing with Toddlers—made fishing sound more like a punishment.  Like running a skiff in skinny water, you’ve just got to throttle down, trim her up, and ride the lightning. Luckily for you, there’s water ahead to keep you afloat. With some toy dinosaurs and a lot of snacks, I mean a lot of snacks, it can be done and it can be done effectively. The way I have been able to keep my sanity on my skiff is by creating an adventurous environment and culture.

Critical to this is to also keep an open mind while flats fishing, seek out toddler-friendly fish, use any and all equipment necessary to ease my day on the water with the kids, and the embrace the most important word in fishing: patience. All of these are paramount to catching fish and equally keeping the kids happy on the skiff. Understand, this process does not happen overnight and certain fishing styles will have to be sacrificed for a little bit. If your three-year-old has the discipline to keep watch for fins and shadows and can double haul to a tailing permit this article will be of no use to you.   

I’m Scott Brown, father to a three-year-old boy named Grayton, who is obsessed with dinosaurs and fishing. I also have a three-month-old girl named Chandler, who at the moment just lies in the bottom of the skiff in her life jacket either smiling or scream crying. Luckily, when I’m on the verge of throwing in the towel because a green triceratops is tangled in my fly line I have my wife, who is equally invested in the culture, to help control the chaos and educate my kids properly.

Recently people have taken notice of my son, who just turned three in April, casting a spinning rod very accurately onto the edge of the mangroves and pulling out mangrove snapper. What’s interesting to us is we never taught him how to cast. What we did do is saturate his world with nothing but rods, reels, lures, flies, and just the angling culture in general.

My kids are involved in the entire angling process from scouting for new spots on maps to tying flies, leaders, and even maintaining our skiff. Currently, my son is obsessed with filling his empty tackle box that my friend Nicholas Calabro gave him. All of this feeds into fostering a new and exciting environment for kids that gets the stoke level skyrocketing and leaves them with the mindset to want to learn.

Dress them like they are pro angler. You don’t have to go to your local outfitters and start raining cash on clothes he’s going to grow out of in the next 6 months but remember they want to look and be like you, so if your wearing your SPF 50 long sleeve with board shorts and your favorite Orvis hat then you best believe little man is rocking it also because in their eyes you are the pro. 

Let’s talk tactics… In order to take toddlers flats fishing, you must keep them occupied.  Say goodbye to poling your boat around like a ninja while scanning for shadows on the sand because if there’s a toddler on the boat it’s the equivalent to a “screaming hurricane.” Every kid’s attention span is different, but luckily for me I’ve found that if I have live mullet in the bait well or any type of live bait, my three year old will stay out there all day long with an unlimited amount of snacks, of course, as he goes back and forth between fishing and playing with the baitfish. We naturally break out the umbrella and take a break at our favorite sandbar for lunch and let Grayton play and swim. Unfortunately, that means little to no fly-fishing.  

Every once in a while, Grayton has the patience to let my wife stand up on the casting platform while I pole the flats. This, however, becomes boring for a toddler who would rather tangle up your fly line or stand right underneath you asking if you can get closer to the mangroves because he has learned it equals easy catching mangrove snapper. You have to pick your battles.

I try to use visual fishing techniques; I love using popping corks with mullet. The popping cork gives your kid something to focus on and it blows their mind when some sort of sea monster drags it to the depths. The mullet tends to stay on top of the water and makes for a spectacular show when they try to evade giant redfish and tarpon.

Target fish that are easily caught. You may not be able to sight fish as effectively for bonefish with a toddler in your boat making a racket so instead change it up and chum those fish in with shrimp and use a 2/0 circle hook with a piece of dead shrimp on a knocker rig. It’s easy for a toddler to cast, they can set the pole down in the rod holder, watch the tip of the rod dance and listen to that drag start screaming! They will absolutely never forget the experience. If your exclusively a fly fisher, you may not like or typically use these tactics but remember it’s not about you, it’s about getting your kid stoked on fishing.

What to bring? Let’s talk toddler packing list and flats fishing equipment. In order to sustain some sort of peace and quite, bring an Ungodly amount of snacks. I’m not talking a bag of chips and some cookies. You need every type of bar, chip, fruit…if it’s edible bring it, because like a tarpon cruising the flats in the keys you never know what fly is going to make or break it. With toddlers it’s the exact same thing, you can never have enough snacks or enough variety of snacks.  Yeah, they have their “go-tos,” but sometimes that’s not enough. Sometimes your kid is having a mental break down over you not opening the live well so he can see the mullet you pulled in with the cast net, so play it safe and break out that ice cream bar out of the cooler… chances are it could save the day. Speaking of saving the day, no body outranks officer safety.

First thing I thought about when I started taking Grayton on the skiff is how can I make my skiff safer. Wear your emergency shut off leash; you may survive the fall out of the boat but your toddler will not if the vessel continues underway with no one at the helm and crashes. Invest in a comfortable life jacket and make sure your toddler is wearing it properly when underway or fishing in deeper low visibility waters with a current. When we fish the crystal clear flats in the keys, my three-year-old does not wear a life jacket. My wife and I are usually right near him and it’s typically crystal clear and only 1-2 ft deep. He will be doing more walking than swimming if he decides to jump out while staked or anchored. 

A more important note is if you are a weak swimmer or out of shape and aren’t confident you can save your kid in the maritime environment; you should consider sticking to shore… it’s not worth the risk. Just use sound judgment and abide by your state’s watercraft laws and you will be fine.

Trolling motor… go buy one. You need two adults in the skiff if you want to push pole because either your toddler is trying to get up on the poling platform with you or they are going overboard to swim with the fish. The trolling motor gives you the ability to be almost equally as stealthy in shallow water and allows you to teach and supervise your kid while maneuvering the boat in shallow water. A power pole also makes fishing with toddlers a lot easier since you can stake your boat with the push of a button while maintaining attention on your kids. 

Patience and positive reinforcement has to be the most important tool you could use on the skiff and that is why I’m handing the reins over to the subject matter expert: my wife. Patience certainly isn’t an easy thing to come by, especially when your child is having the inevitable breakdown.

We play a lot of ‘I Spy’.  We also talk in whisper voices like everything is a special secret. We see who can find the first starfish or giant hermit crab in the water while dad looks for the fish. When the fit does start up, and boy will it ever, just remember, kids, are not receptive when they are crying. Wait for them to stop crying before even trying to solve the problem.

My go-to is “as soon as you’re done crying I will be happy to help you ‘xyz’”.  It probably won’t work the first time, but they eventually figure it out. Also, remember you change far more behavior by praising the good than punishing the bad. This can range from phrases such as, “I really liked the way you waited for your dad to help you with the lid of the bait well. You are very patient.” To “Good job keeping the rod tip out of the water.” Or “thank you for being a good listener”. It’s all about noticing and celebrating the little victories. Bottom line is: it has resulted in more fish and great times than anything else I can think of.

I hope this perspective gives parents and future parents some useful info and cuts down on the fear of taking your kiddos out on the ocean. Be a responsible mentor for the future generation and enjoy your time with them on the water. I can’t think of any other better place to be able to pass information to receptive minds. There is a lot of history, culture, and lessons to be learned on the water. Teach them what it means to be an angler and a custodian of our waters and nature. Teach them to pick up trash and always leave a place better than when you arrived.

Learn to be patient and accept there will be broken rods, fleeing fish, screaming, crying, mental break downs by both you and your child…the list goes on.  Ultimately, you’re building and investing in a life long fishing buddy and ensuring the next generation is taking care of our environment and natural resources the way it’s supposed to be done. 

Article and photos from Scott Brown and his wife Lindsay Brown. Follow along with the family adventures on Instagram at @push_it_good_inshore or https://pushitgoodinshore.com/.

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Vests and Deep Water

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I had never been fly fishing, but I decided that a fly fishing vest would be a good investment.

In junior high, the multi-pocketed khaki vest certainly didn’t have anything to do with style. Tommy Hilfiger t-shirts, baggy jeans, and puffy white Filas were preferable. As is probably the case with everyone, I must have looked ridiculous. Realistically, wearing the vest was a 50/50 proposition between being stuffed in a locker or setting a trend.

Back then I made the purchase because I was going fishing. Camping, canoeing, and fishing, to be more accurate. I was headed off to central Virginia, to a cabin on the banks of a flooded quarry. At the time I had an enormous tackle box, filled with all manner of conventional lures. Rapala minnows, Berkeley worms, Rooster Tail spinners – everything I’d seen the guys use on Saturday morning TV. Dozens upon dozens of lures, all lined up in a giant Plano; a place for everything and everything in its place. Even as a teenager, bringing that monstrosity onto a small watercraft seemed ridiculous. A vest made sense.

After arriving to the cabin and throwing sleeping bags up on top bunks (teenage boys covet top bunks) we set off to fish. Smallmouth and sunfish were caught from shore. Logically, we thought, bigger smallmouth and sunfish would be caught off in deeper water. Illogically, we left fish to find fish.

Four vessels disembarked. Three with two teenagers, one with an adult. John was in my canoe. He had a penchant for quoting South Park and WWF wrestlers. He also had a monstrous tackle box, which accompanied us in the canoe.

Continue reading “Vests and Deep Water”

Fly Fishing Columbia’s Jungles: Trip Preparation

Fly Fishing Columbia’s Jungles: Trip Preparation thumbnail

Planning a fishing trip out of the country is something you would typically have at least a month or more in time to do…This is how I did it in a little over two weeks.

After feeding my brain with as much research as I possibly could on the area, the fishery and the environment I would be in, I formulated a list of the essentials and priorities that I would need to have for the trip to be successful.

First on my list was obtaining my yellow fever vaccination – This task resulted in being much more difficult than I could have imagined. There was a yellow fever vaccine shortage and after calling all over the Portland area and 2 days later I finally was able to get in touch with a Travel and Immunization clinic – They told me that they have the yellow fever alternative vaccine until the shortage is fulfilled. They then told me that they are booked for a month out …. after some begging and persuading with them they “squeezed” me in that following Monday.

When I met with the nurse who stuck a needle in my arm, she ran down all the “worse case scenarios” with me. She prescribed me the two important pills to bring with, according to her, anti-malaria and anti-diarrhea.  There are four different types of anti-malaria pills and all have different side effects, one being that you can have very “vivid” dreams and another being that your skin can be extra sensitive to the sun. I opted for the ladder of the two, bring on the trippy dreams!   

After you get your yellow fever vaccine they give you this little yellow stamped card that can be very important in allowing or not allowing you entry in some countries. Luckily for travel from the US to Colombia, it is not required but it is recommended and sort of peace of mind to have it just in case.

Next on my list was the bugs! I will be camping in the jungle for 10 days and from my research, everything in the jungle wants your blood. I found the Sawyer Permethrin spray to be the best pre-treatment for my clothing. I hung up all my clothing in my backyard and sprayed multiple layers of the insect repellent to have a base coat ready and soaked into my clothes upon my arrival. The spray lasts for up to 6 weeks and protects against ticks, chiggers, mites, and mosquitos. Once it was dry I could not feel or see any leftover residue or odor which I really liked.

Where I will be traveling is practically on the equator so protecting my skin was very important to me. All the clothing I packed I needed to be confident in that it would withstand the jungle conditions and have SPF protection. The Free Fly bamboo Shade Hoody paired with the Breeze Pants ended up being my go-to for fishing on the boat. They kept me from getting sunburned and also cool in the hot humid weather.

While traveling in and to Puerto Carreno the Kuhl Horizon Pants held through all the weather conditions that were thrown our way. It went from hot and sunny to torrential downpours while standing on the ferry crossing the river and these pants wicked away moisture.

In preparation for the trip, I had the most fun researching the species I would be going after and tying up some of my own creations on what I think could work. Payara were one of the harder fish to find flies for. I knew they had to be big and flashy so going off of that I came up with a few baitfish patterns to tie and I also found a Colombian local who works with Fish Colombia who is an incredible fly tyer and bought some flies off of him – @orinocoflies.

For the Peacock bass, Umpqua flies had all the arsenal we could need. The Reducer Fly was the VIP of the trip.

Last but not least – The gear! I brought down with me 3 setups. 9wt, 10wt, and an 11wt – the 9 wt I had equipped as my jungle dry line for fishing poppers and streamers that I did not want to sink too much for Sardanita and Peacock Bass. The 10wt I had for the peacock bass streamers with a full sinking Type 6 jungle line to get the fly down there when fishing the lagoons. I used the 11wt set up with a full sinking tropical line, Type 6 for the Payara, who live in the fast strong currents of the Orinoco River.

Article from Kayla Lockhart and photos from Jesse Packwood of Team Flylords on their recent adventure down to Columbia.

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A Fly Fisher’s Pickerel Apology

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Fishes of the genus Esox have always fascinated anglers. They get big. They look mean. They attack lures and fight… if you can manage to find and hook one.

All of these things make sense. So here is what confuses me: In a world where we chase carp and sing the praises of six-inch brook trout, why aren’t pickerel celebrated?

Although I lived in southern and mid-Atlantic states within their natural range, I never  encountered a pickerel until I moved to New England. The first fish I caught upon relocating was a feisty, toothy, sixteen-inch specimen. “Oh, its just a pickerel,” my angling companion noted with the same disdain I would expect to hear had I reeled in a muddy branch. I didn’t know any better. It was a fish. It fought. It looked a lot like a pike. And I enjoyed the whole experience.

I guess I still don’t know any better. Sure, they stink, wriggle,  and can chew up your hand. And they can “get in the way” of catching other species. But here and now, I’m defending and offering an apologetic for the pickerel.

Continue reading “A Fly Fisher’s Pickerel Apology”

Electric Bike “E-bike” and Fly Fishing Trips in Colorado?

Electric Bike “E-bike” and Fly Fishing Trips in Colorado? thumbnail

Vail Valley Anglers, a fly shop and outfitter located in the High Rockies of Colorado, is offering an “E-Bike and Fly Fish Guided Trip.” The guided trip involves using electric e-bikes to access a variety of different water that may be tougher for other anglers to access. Flylords caught up with one of the “e-bike guides” Eric Phannenstiel to discuss what this trip offering is all about.

Flylords: Where did the idea come from?
Eric: The first I heard about the idea was from our General Manager John Cochran. He tapped me to lead the implementation of the idea since I am an avid cyclist. I have ridden “Ride the Rockies”, a week-long cycling event in Colorado as well as some of the longer single-day ride events that are available in Colorado and New Mexico.

Flylords: What’s the advantage of using a bike?
Eric: There are several. Most notably is that we can access parts of our rivers where parking for motor vehicles is not readily available. In addition, we can be more selective about where we fish since we can view much more of the river from our paths which follow the river system. Also, since we use e-bikes, we can cover a lot of river in a day. Lastly, you get to exercise in a sport that is not typically known for its workout benefits!

Flylords: What types of electric bikes do you use?
Eric: The bikes are from a company named Sondors. When we started the program, there were very few affordable bikes available, but these seemed to fit our needs nicely.

Flylords: How do you transport the fly rods and other gear?
Eric: We have two-piece rod cases that attach to the bike frames with bungee balls and we use spacers between the case and the frame to ensure that the cases don’t interfere with the bikes in any way. On the guide’s bike, we have a set of panniers to stow the guide’s equipment pack and other items that are necessary for the trip. There is also space on top of the guide’s bike rack for a large landing net. We typically go wet wading (wading boots and neoprene socks) since riding a bike in waders and boots is not very practical.

Flylords: Have you had any issue with clients crashing or equipment problems?
Eric: During the test phase of this program we had initially envisioned a trailer behind the guide’s bike to carry all of the necessary gear.  On one of the test drives, a wheel fell off the trailer which led to a catastrophic crash that broke multiple fly rods. It was not pretty… I am not aware of any client crashes. The bikes are very sturdy and are well balanced. They have 4 inch wide tires on them too, which helps with the stability. In fact, I have had a 72 year old man on a guided trip where we were riding on single-track trails. It was awesome!

Flylords: What rivers do you mainly fish?
Eric: We typically fish the Eagle River in the Vail Valley.  It is a freestone river that has a wonderful history of legendary fish during pioneer days, then an unfortunate period where the river was subjected to heavy metals contamination from the mining industry.

The Eagle River is now a very productive, healthy fishery that offers primarily Brown and Rainbow trout, some Cutthroats, and the occasional Brook trout.

Flylords: Do you think this concept will trend amongst other anglers?
Eric: I think that this mode of travel is a great opportunity for our guests to check multiple things off their list of things to do in a single activity. It is a fun way to experience fishing and see parts of our valley from a bike that would otherwise not be practical.

I have been riding my bike and fishing since I was a young boy, but I have yet to see many fishermen doing this yet. Perhaps with the growing popularity of e-bikes, this will allow more fishermen to experience this activity mashup.

Article and interview made possible by Eric Phannenstielat Vail Valley Anglers, if you are interested in contacting Eric or the fly shop, check them out online at vailvalleyanglers.com.

Photos courtesy of Nolan Dahlberg, Marketing/Media Lead at Vail Valley Anglers. Be sure to check them out on Instagram @vailvalleyanglers.

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Interior Department Announces More Public Access on Lower Blackfoot River

Last week, the Interior Department announced plans to purchase THOUSANDS of acres in Montana’s Lower Blackfoot Watershed. To many fly anglers, this stretch of water is famous for being the setting for one of our most famous fly fishing stories, “A River Runs Through It”, by Norman Maclean. The novel, and fly fishing in general, was made famous when Robert Redford made the novella into an amazing film featuring Brad Pitt, which has been credited with aiding in the rise of fly fishing as we know it now.

According to a press release from the Interior Department:

“Secretary David Bernhardt said the plan is to work in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy to buy 13,000 acres of private land and eventually open it to anglers, campers, floaters, and others while also keeping forest management projects.

‘From the very beginning of my tenure, public access is a critical component to how we manage lands. Acquiring these lands dramatically increases access to public lands available for recreational activities such as fishing, hiking, hunting, mountain biking, and snowmobiling,’ said Bernhardt.”

Once the acreage is acquired the new lands will be managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

According to an article in The Washington Examiner:

“It plans to use money from Sportsman’s Access funds allocated by Congress from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It plans to spend $3 million to acquire approximately 4,800 acres of the 13,000 acres later this year.”

We had the pleasure of fishing the Little Blackfoot River in Montana while on location at The Ranch at Paws Up and could not be more excited that more anglers will be able to publically access this amazing trout fishery!

Source: TheWashingtonExaminer.com, United States Department of the Interior.

Continue reading “Interior Department Announces More Public Access on Lower Blackfoot River”

Celebrity Spotlight: Garret Yrigoyen

Celebrity Spotlight: Garret Yrigoyen thumbnail

The Flylords team had the pleasure of catching up with last years Bachelorette winner, Garret Yrigoyen. After receiving the “First Impression Rose” from Rebecca Kufrin, Garret was able to win her heart on national TV. Now that the show has been over, they are happily married and Garret is able to spend more time on the water. Being outside seems to be a major stress reliever and allows him to gain more respect for the environment. Read on to find out what he’s been up to and what his future plans hold.

Flylords: How would your fishing buddies describe you rather than the rest of your fans?

Garret: My friends call me GY or G, not Garrett. Some refer to me as a wildcard because they never know what I’m doing. They would say I’m outgoing, love to laugh and joke, and would do anything for any of them.

 Flylords: When did you first pick up a fly rod?

Garret: I first picked up a fly rod in 2015. My friend and college roommate/teammate taught me the basics and got me on my first fish that summer. I began fishing when I was about 3 with conventional tackle.

Flylords: Has anyone ever recognized you on the water?

Garret: I’ve had one person recognize me on the water, it was kind of funny because he said: “oh my God, are you Garrett from the Bachelorette?” 

 Flylords: What does Rebecca think of your nomadic lifestyle?

Garret: Rebecca appreciates my nomadic style because it reminds her of her late father and how I’m different from a lot of people. 

Flylords: Does Rebecca fly fish with you?

Garret: Rebecca “Becca” has fished with me twice but not with a fly rod, but I attempted to teach her in a pool once.

Flylords: Does she still have that large streamer you gave her from the first impression rose episode?

Garret: She does still have the streamer I gave her from the first impression episode. She keeps it on a duck decoy her dad carved 

 Flylords: When did you get into the fly fishing/hunting industry?

Garret: I just recently started dabbling in the fishing/hunting industry. I would love to a lot more because I feel like it is something I’m passionate about and would like to become a lot more educated and better at both. 

Flylords: What else do you do in your free time to relax? 

Garret: I honestly hate relaxing. I like being exhausted when I go to bed at night. Relaxing activities for me would be swimming, corn hole, ping pong, billiards, card games, marbles, and cribbage! 

Flylords: Spiked seltzer or beer? Or does it depend on the situation haha..

Garret: It depends on the situation while choosing a spiked seltzer or beer. I’m more of a beer drinker especially after or during fishing, and spiked seltzer if I’m out doing something more strenuous like beach volleyball or Spikeball haha.

Flylords: What are your favorite species to target?

Garret: My favorite species to target are any type of trout. Mostly browns and rainbows.

Flylords: If you could fish anywhere in the world, where would it be and who with?

Garret: I’ve wanted to fly fish in the Pyrenees with my dad & brother for a few years now. We are Basque, the country/region is gorgeous. I know they have a ton of trout in there. There is something that gives me pure enjoyment and excitement every single time I see my dad & brother get on a fish because they are the ones who originally got me into it as a kid, we are essentially best friends and I feel like it’s a reward to see them do well on the water. 

Flylords: Tell us your favorite fishing memory.

Garret: I have many favorite fishing memories but one in particular that makes me still laugh is this…My dad was teaching me and my brother how to read a stream and we had to get to the other side of the bank to fish this hole. The only way across was to walk onto a fallen tree that was just wide enough to get both feet on sideways. The stream was too fast and deep for a 6 & 12 yr old to cross without being swept away. My brother and I questioned it and my dad said “what do you have to be afraid of, here I will show you” he made it about halfway across before he slipped off the log and fell in the stream. He let the current take him down about 50 yards until it calmed down and he made it to the bank. We said, “hey dad, is that how we do it?” Haha. My brother and I made it across without falling in. We have a lot of great stories like that. 

Flylords: Any plans for the future?

Garret: I always plan on fishing in Eastern Nevada with a great friend of mine. But I would love to make it up to Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah. I can also say that I have been looking into going to Roatán to go fly fishing for permits. 

Continue reading “Celebrity Spotlight: Garret Yrigoyen”

Rocky Mountain Road Trip

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Colorado’s Rocky Mountains could keep a trout angler occupied for a lifetime.

That’s what I thought to myself while westbound on Colorado’s Route 24 with my dad and a friend—the sound of rubber turning on the road and the vastness of the Rockies in the distance. I felt restless.

MikeMcDade_HighElevation1

After all, we didn’t have a lifetime to explore Colorado’s Rockies. But we did have enough time. Enough time to cover several hundred miles of exceptional trout country.

MikeMcDade_DreamStream1

Our first stop was at a well-known section of the South Platte River called the Dream Stream. Named for the size of the fish it produces, mostly in the spring and fall months when trout migrate up the river from the reservoir below, this tailwater meanders through a 1,300-acre high desert prairie at 9,000 feet.

BrianFay_DreamStream3 (1)

As our road trip continued west, the mountains we first saw in the distance got bigger and bigger, and the prairies that surrounded us turned to rock. We eventually arrived in the Roaring Fork Valley, home to 42 miles of Gold Medal water. Designated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the state’s Gold Medal waters provide better-than-average fishing opportunities for large trout.

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Ready to experience something new, we set out to fish high-elevation lakes and creeks scattered across the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. The cold, thin air took our breath away. And so did the scenery. With water as flat as glass and 14,000-foot peaks surrounding us, the only thing nearly as beautiful were the cutthroat and brookies we caught.

BrianFay_HighElevation4 (1)

No one wanted to admit it, but with our flight home scheduled for that evening, we all knew it was time to pack it in.

After all, we didn’t have a lifetime. But we did have the time of our lives.

Photos and story from Mike McDade, check him out on Instagram at @mikemc290.

Continue reading “Rocky Mountain Road Trip”

Featured Fly Tyer: Brita Fordice

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Welcome to our new Featured Fly Tyer series where we highlight tyers around the world using their creativity to catch us all more fish! This time we sit down with Brita Fordice (Instagram: @SeaFly907), to chat about why she ties and where her creative patterns and tying talents have brought her.

Flylords: When did you tie your first fly? What pattern was it?

Brita: I tied my first fly at 10, and it was the ugliest version of a Winter’s Hope steelhead fly ever. All I had to teach myself to tie was Deke Meyer’s Advanced Fly Fishing for Steelhead book to go by…. And fast forward 7 years and I made one of the bigger mistakes by getting a tattoo of a Winter’s Hope on my stomach. Let’s just say that they should outlaw all stomach tattoos on women. What started as a #2 became a 2/0 and then went back to like a #1 hook size after my daughter. Now it looks more similar to a colorful bird poop on my stomach.

Photo by: Chris King

Flylords: What was the first fish you caught on your own tie?   

Brita: I caught a 9” Dolly Varden on a woolly bugger in front of our family place on the Stillaguamish River and I felt like the king of the world.   

A Shrimp Game Changer

Flylords: What is your favorite pattern to tie these days?   

Brita: Shrimp. I love them. I can (and do) spend hours looking at photos of both the live versions and flies others have tied to mimic them. There’s something so fun about the materials used for shrimp, and it’s a challenge to find materials that are truly transparent that still mimic the movement needed.   

Flylords: What drew you to the saltwater side of fly tying?  

Brita: The size. Any pattern that doesn’t take up a large portion of my palm bores me.   I am aware that very large fish eat very small flies…. I just don’t get much enjoyment out of tying small nymphs and dries. Saltwater patterns are fun because one pattern can be used in multiple bodies of water in many countries around the world for multiple species.

Flylords: What draws you to fly tying and fly design?  

Brita: It’s always come easy for me and I’ve always loved it. Five+ years ago when Instagram became a thing and I was trying to get my name out as a guide I knew I needed to get attention via the site somehow.… And while other females know they can post pictures of themselves fishing to gain traction, I knew that one day I’d be old and ugly, so I needed to find a way to prove that I am a guide that is worth more than just a person to take you fishing. I decided I would focus on my tying for that, and it has paid off in the end.

Flylords: What is your process while designing and testing a new pattern?   

Brita: I start with the real-life form. I will google search “baitfish” or “shrimp” and find a real-life version of something that I haven’t seen in fly form done well before. I then watch videos of the fish or shrimp in the water on youtube. Then I tie one up. I’ll swim it in my swim tank to confirm it rides right too. There are many times I’ve found that patterns look amazing but don’t follow the “form follows function” rule. So I always swim a fly before I post it or fish it.

Flylords: How does fly tying affect your lifestyle?  

Brita: It has gotten me invited on more fishing trips than I normally would have. Every time I fish Puget Sound on a day I’m not guiding I still get excited and tie up multiple new flies to test on the fish. It becomes the running joke on the boat that ‘“ADHD Brita” is switching out flies again’ because I’ll land a fish, say “that fly works” and switch to another fly to try. So as for affecting my lifestyle, I guess you could say that it has made me get more enjoyment out of watching fish get fooled by my patterns than actually hooking the fish myself. Which is why I love guiding as well, as it allows me to force others to be my sacrificial lambs and land fish on my flies for me. Which I love to see.

Flylords: Do you have any advice for new tyers or anglers looking to pick it up?  

Brita: If you’re thinking of getting into it to save money you picked the wrong hobby. Next, think of what fish species you fish the most and whether you enjoy streamer fishing or dry fly fishing most. Only purchase the materials for streamers or for dries initially. Because the materials don’t always transfer over, and you’ll spend hundreds if you try and do both at once. And most importantly, take a class. This will save you the most money initially.

Flylords: What is your favorite material to tie with?

Brita: I love shrimp eyes. I go through more shrimp eyes than any human should in a given month. I love making my own in fun colors as well.

Flylords: How do you decide what materials to use in each creation?  

Brita: This depends solely on the fly. Many saltwater patterns require materials that shed water quickly to eliminate weight, and others necessitate weight on one side to counteract the fluffiness. It’s a middle school equivalent Physics class with every fly I tie some days…

Flylords: Your mantis shrimp flies are so detailed, how long does it take to tie one of those? 

Brita: That one takes me about 35 minutes to tie and another 20 to color. And I giggle the entire time because they are the most fun flies ever. And they are the most badass creature in the entire universe in my opinion, so the time spent is worth it.

Flylords: What is next for Brita Fordice in 2019?   

Brita: That’s a tough one. I am going to continue to design patterns for RIO Products and tie flies and guide on my days off. Life is good 🙂

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